I didn’t actually need the alarm to wake up at 4:30 this morning. I’ve always had an uncanny (and irritating) habit of waking up just before my alarm when I have to catch a bus/taxi/plane in the morning. Further to that, I will also wake up at regular intervals throughout the entire night and my body fails to realise my alarm should do just fine in waking me up.
A request to all those who stay in hostels and have an early departure, for God’s sake, please pack your bag the night before, not when you get up. The sound of you rummaging through your belongings while I have a naked bulb blinding me is not anyone’s idea of a good time.
So being the courteous hostel guest, I was silently out the door of my hostel at around 4:40 am, as I had the forethought to have my bags packed and ready to go before I turned off the light the night before.
It was only a short walk to the bus stop at the beginning of Flores Island, at the Yo Amo Petén welcome sign.
It’s always nice to run into someone who’s getting on the same transport when you’re in a foreign country and 50% sure you’re in the right place just before the scheduled departure. The bus came essentially on time and lucky for myself and the two other passengers, it was an air-conditioned coach with fully recline-able seats. The trip time was an estimated 5 hours, and after a 9 hour van trip from Lanquín the day before, this was a welcome and comfortable change.
It was a beautiful, warm, misty morning travelling through the country side in north eastern part of Guatemala. The mist slowly and permanently burned off as the sun came up in full force, a welcome sight considering the amount of rain that has been ever present the entire trip.
It was only around 2 hours to the Belize border,which I barely noticed as the countryside was mesmerising in the morning hours. Our driver asked us to gather all our belongings and pass through the immigration check point, assuring us he would meet us on the other side of the border. Of the 2 companions on the bus, one spoke fluent Spanish, which ensured we understood our directions, and drivers intentions after we crossed the border. This was a little more comforting to myself, as I had handed over $25 USD for a round trip water taxi in Belize, which I was yet to receive a travel voucher.
My Spanish so far was solid in the phrases “I want..” “I need..” and “I have..”. If you want to bargain or haggle with me, do it early in the morning as you are 90% guaranteed to win in the transaction. I don’t feel I was ripped off, but I certainly couldn’t be bothered to let him down, so money changed hands.
The border was a breeze coming back into Belize, with the Guatemalan authorities relying on their neighbours to do all the actual immigration work in both directions. That was more than OK with me.
The girl I met at the bus stop under the cover of darkness, left the bus at the border to be picked-up by a tour group to do the ATM caves tour, which is just outside the town of San Ignacio in the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve. Myself and my fluent ‘in more than one language’ Belgian companion were left to sweat it out on the Belize side of the border for around 30 minutes, while our driver went out for breakfast, and had a good long conversation with his friends on the Guatemalan side.
Finally we saw our Guatemalan friend submit his paperwork to immigration and very shortly our air conditioned chariot collected it’s now overheating passengers. Did I mention the sun made an appearance? The next leg of the trip should be around 2-3 hours to Belize City, more than enough time to cool down and get lost in the countryside once more.
Well that’s it for Guatemala. So happy with the turn of events so far. Had not really done any research on Guatemala past that of the Mayan ruins at Tikal. Staying in hostels is a great way to learn about what other travellers are doing, have done and where to go for your next stop. Travelling in the off season has made it incredibly easy to book accommodation and transfers last minute. The downside is the unpredictable weather, but so far that has not been too much of an inconvenience.
Thanks for joining me on a week long trip through Guatemala. I wish I had have had the foresight to fly out of another city so I didn’t need to back track all the way to Belize. That’s sometimes the price you pay as well when you’re just making it up as you go along.
This is the last full day I have before jetting back to Canada, the other half of the day you will be able to find in the Belize Diaries, coming very very soon. Probably tomorrow.
Please follow the links below to catch up if you’re just joining. I would love to hear your thoughts on Guatemala, which places have treated you the best (or worst). There’s a much longer trip through Central America on the horizon, especially after getting a taste on this small vacation.